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by Stephen Yellin

This is part of a series of daily articles that covers the run-up to the catastrophe of World War I in July 1914. The diplomatic crisis exactly 100 years ago was sparked by the murder of the main force for peace in the Austro-Hungarian Empire – Archduke Franz Ferdinand, together with his wife Sophie – by a Serbian terrorist. Backed by Germany’s offering of unconditional support in using force to retaliate against Serbia – the infamous “blank check” – the Viennese authorities began preparing a list of demands for the Serbian government to accept or face war. The demands were deliberately made to ensure war would occur.

The ultimatum was finally issued on July 23, 1914, over 3 weeks after the Archduke’s murder. The 12 days that followed are the focus of this series.

Feel free to refer to my list of important figures in keeping track of who's who.

Previous days:
Thursday, July 23rd - the fuse is lit
Friday, July 24th - "c'est la guerre europeene"
Saturday, July 25th - "we stand upon the edge of war"
Sunday, July 26th - “War is thought imminent. Wildest enthusiasm prevails.”
Monday, July 27th – “You’ve cooked this broth and now you’re going to eat it.”
Tuesday, July 28 – “To try and avoid such a calamity as a European war”
Wednesday, July 29th – “I will not be responsible for a monstrous slaughter!”
Thursday, July 30 - "The responsibility of Peace or War"

The night of the 29th had left several of the major leaders of the “Great Powers” still clinging to the possibility that a European-wide war could be prevented: whether contained to the Austro-Serbian front, deterred by mediation, or halted by autocrats nervous about the fate of their empires and dynasties. July 30th would see these hopes, the last chance to avoid a war pitting the Great Powers in teams against each other, dashed for good. Meanwhile the epicenter of events shifted away from whence it began: from Vienna to London and from Belgrade to Brussels. The next 5 days would determine the size and shape of the catastrophe to come.

Willy/Nicky, Part 3: or, Truth and Consequences

Wednesday night had seen Tsar Nicholas II, in an unusual display of force of will, force his government to cancel the order to mobilize the Russian army just minutes before the order was to be sent. Nicholas had done this on a basis of a telegram from his cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II in which “Willy” had reiterated his willingness to restrain his Austrian ally if “Nicky” could avoid mobilizing his own armies. What “Nicky” did not know was that “Willy” had been replying to the Tsar’s telegram the day before (Part 1 of the back-and-forth), not his proposal to have the dispute settled at The Hague’s arbitration court (Part 2). The other fact “Nicky” did not know was that the mediation offer proposed “Willy” had already been rejected by not only Vienna, but the Kaiser’s own government. The crisis was too far gone to be retrieved by either autocrat’s say-so.  

"Nicky" and "Willy" before 1914
Late that night, the weary Tsar sends a third telegram to the Kaiser.
Thank you heartily for your quick answer. Am sending Tatischev [his aide] this evening with instructions [ie to Berlin]. The military measures which have now come into force were decided five days ago for reasons of defense on account of Austria's preparations. I hope from all my heart that these measures won't in any way interfere with your part as mediator which I greatly value. We need your strong pressure on Austria to come to an understanding with us.

[Emphasis mine]

In a crisis where outright lies along with mere acts of deliberate deceit and misinformation had helped determine the course of events, Nicholas makes the fateful blunder of telling Wilhelm the truth. By telling the Kaiser that the Russian government had begun its “military measures” back on July 24th – measures that fell just short of mobilizing the Russian army – he gives the Kaiser the impression that his cousin had been secretly gearing up for war while pretending to seek a diplomatic solution.
The Kaiser’s response upon reading the telegram the morning of July 30th is to explode in indignant fury at what he saw as a personal betrayal of his mediation efforts.
I regard my mediation as mistaken, since, without waiting for it to take effect, the Tsar has, without a hint to me, been mobilizing behind my back. That means I have got to mobilize as well!
Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, German General and commander of its armies in 1914.
Field Marshall von Moltke
The news of Russian mobilization is the last straw for Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke, the Younger. As Germany’s armies have yet to mobilize he is convinced the military must act now or risk the failure of the Schlieffen Plan before it even begins; if Russia attacks East Prussia in sufficient weight before the Germans can knock France out of the war, Germany will lose. The Chief of Staff literally barges his way into Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg’s office upon hearing the news and demands Germany immediately implement Kriegsgefahrzustand (“State of Imminent War”), the German pre-mobilization plan. Moltke also promptly cables his Austrian counterpart, General Conrad, and urges him to shift his armies from facing Serbia alone (“Plan B”, for Balkans) to the Russian border (“Plan R”, for Russia). Conrad agrees but in a typically boneheaded decision will split his armies between the 2 fronts; 1914 will see over 1 million Austrian casualties, including 189,000 dead fighting the Russians alone, thanks to Conrad’s attempt to fight 2  wars at the same time without the resources to do so.

Moltke has less success with Bethmann that day; instead of consenting to pre-mobilization, he and the Kaiser jointly pen another telegram to the Tsar (although only “Willy” puts his name to it). In it they respond to Nicholas’ second telegram (“Part 2”) regarding the testy exchange between Russian Foreign Minister Sazanov and the German ambassador, Count Pourtales, then go on to deliver a final warning.

Best thanks for telegram. It is quite out of the question that my ambassadors language could have been in contradiction with the tenor of my telegram. Count Pourtalès was instructed to draw the attention of your government to the danger & grave consequences involved by a mobilisation; I said the same in my telegram to you. Austria has only mobilised against Servia & only a part of her army. If, as it is now the case, according to the communication by you & your Government [ie the Tsar’s 3rd telegram], Russia mobilises against Austria, my rôle as mediator you kindly intrusted me with, & which I accepted at you[r] express prayer, will be endangered if not ruined. The whole weight of the decision lies solely on you[r] shoulders now, who have to bear the responsibility for Peace or War.


Photograph of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Notice that he is posed in such a way that his withered left arm appears the same size as his right one.
Kaiser Wilhelm II
There is an element of political intrigue in the telegram. Knowing full-well that he and everyone in the government, civilian and military save for the Kaiser, have and are continuing to prod Vienna forward, Bethmann is attempting to pin the blame for the war to come on Russia and the Tsar. Unless the Russians cancel mobilization – not just against Germany, but on both fronts – Berlin is prepared to present itself as the one on “defense” against Russian aggression. Such a message has been deemed necessary by the German government in order to rally public support behind such a war, especially in neutralizing the threat of massive working-class strikes led by the Social Democratic Party. Whether the Kaiser understands this reasoning, or is sincerely blaming the Tsar for wrecking his mediation offer is unclear.

St. Petersburg - “I will decide”

While “Willy” and his Chancellor collaborate to put the onus for “Peace or War” on the head of “Nicky”, the Tsar finds himself in a most unusual position for an autocrat: standing alone against the opposition of every single one of his ministers, his military leaders and even the head of the Duma (the Russian parliament). The Tsar had incurred their wrath by canceling the order for mobilization just before it was to be sent the night before; now, he finds himself trying to hold firm against unheard-of pressure  to avoid being “responsible for such a monstrous slaughter”, as he’d exclaimed the night before.

Tsar Nicholas II. By his own admission he was woefully unprepared to rule upon his accession in 1894 at age 26, his father having decided to keep him ignorant of state affairs until he turned 30.
First to try and get Nicholas to cave that morning is Agriculture Minister Krivoshein, who despite his seemingly innocuous title is the leading hawk in the Russian government. Nicholas simply refuses to see him. Next up were War Minister Sukhomlinov and army Chief of Staff Yanushkevitch, who had been forced to give in to the Tsar’s order and cancel mobilization. They telephone Nicholas and explain that “partial mobilization” against Austria-Hungary only – something Nicholas mistakenly believes would avoid German intervention – is logistically infeasible, and that full mobilization must be ordered so as to “prepare for a serious war without loss of time”. Nicholas blows them off and imperiously declares “the conversation [is] at an end.”

Before he can hang up, however, Sukhomlinov asks if Nicholas will at least listen to Foreign Minister Sazanov. Nicholas consents after a “lengthy silence,” then pencils in Sazanov for a 3:00 PM meeting. Realizing that debating military logistics with his master is a waste of time, Sazanov chooses to focus on the threat to Russia posed by Germany in general. He plays up Vienna’s refusal to back down and Germany’s motivation for backing her ally up, as well as the argument that preparing for war did not mean being eager to wage it.  As his deputy recorded in his diary:

It was clear to everybody [Sazanov said] that Germany had decided to bring about a collision, as otherwise she would not have rejected all the pacificatory proposals that had been made and could easily have brought her ally to reason. [It was better] to put away any fears that our warlike preparations would bring about a war, and to continue these preparations carefully rather than by reason of such fears to be taken unawares by war.
Sazanov’s speech leaves the Tsar “deathly pale”, and “in a choking voice” replies: “Just think of the responsibility you are advising me to assume! Remember that it is a question of sending thousands of men to their deaths.” It was at this moment that the Tsar’s aide, General Tatischev offers his proverbial 2 cents’ worth: “Yes, it is hard to decide”. “I will decide,”Nicholas shoots back “in a rough and displeased tone”. Finally, just before 4:00 PM, he succumbs to the pressure and consents to the order for general mobilization.
Sergei Sazanov, Russian Foreign Minister in 1914.
Sergey Sazanov, Russian Foreign Minister in 1914
Sazanov dashes to the palace telephone and calls Yanushkevitch  to give him the prearranged signal: “Now you can smash your telephone!”. This rather juvenile line is in response to the fact that Yanushkevitch had to call off mobilization the night before by making a phone call to the General Telegraph Office. This time, however, there is no 11th hour retraction from the Tsar; at 6:00 PM the mobilization orders begin to be sent out by telegraph across the Russian Empire.  Russia is now fully committed to war; Nicholas, though he could not have known it, has signed his, his family and his empire’s death warrant.

There is an eerie similarity to the position held by the Tsar on July 30th with that held by John F. Kennedy at the peak of the Cuban Missile Crisis. With the vast majority of his government, as well as the U.S. military, in favor of a military strike on Cuba, JFK held firm against the pressure to commence what would have almost surely have been nuclear Armageddon. He would later cite Barbara Tuchman’s masterpiece on the start of World War I, “The Guns of August” as a motivating force in compelling him to seek every last outlet for peace regardless of the demand for war. What made the difference in 1914 – what made peace turn to war – was that Nicholas Romanov lacked Kennedy’s toughness as well as the weight of history behind him to defend his decision. Russia, and the world, have and will continue to suffer for it.

Paris – “To prove…that France, like Russia, will not fire the first shot.”

The morning of July 30th sees the French army’s Chief of Staff, General Joseph Joffre receive disturbing information from French military intelligence: Germany is moving “covering forces” – soldiers, in other words – towards the French border. The report is untrue but the man affectionately known as “Papa Joffre” by his troops, on account of his amiableness and slight resemblance to Santa Claus, has no reason to doubt its accuracy. That afternoon a prominent German newspaper, the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, reports that Germany has already  mobilized its armies. While the paper is equally misinformed, it convinces Joffre that France must mobilize before Germany is ready to attack it. (The French are well aware of Germany’s plan to attack them first, although unaware of the size of the Schlieffen Plan’s flanking maneuver through Belgium.)

General Joffre. An engineer by training he was famous for keeping completely calm even during times of great stress, a trait that arguably saved the war for the Allies in 1914.
Joffre spends the day trying to convince President Poincare and Prime Minister Viviani to enable him to dispatch similar “covering forces” to the French border, an initial step towards mobilizing the French army. Unlike most military leaders in 1914 Joffre is conspicuously loyal to the civilian authorities, and so agrees to keep the “covering forces” 10 kilometers back from the frontier. This, as the French ambassador to Great Britain, Paul Cambon is told, is done to demonstrate French determination not to be the first to open fire on another Great Power. “In doing so we have no other reason than to prove to British public opinion and the British government,” Viviani writes to Cambon, “that France, like Russia, will not fire the first shot.”

The French government is unaware of the fact that Russia has already given the order to mobilize, in effect “firing the first shot” between the Great Powers. This is because their ambassador in St. Petersburg, Maurice Paleologue, has deliberately kept his government in the dark at the request of the Russians. Such flagrant insubordination is nothing new to Paleologue: he has reassured St. Petersburg that France will stand by her ally repeatedly over the past week without checking with either Poincare or Viviani. It should be noted that, at least officially, the Franco-Russian alliance was only defensive in nature; if Russia attacked Germany, France was under no obligation to declare war on the latter. Paleologue, Poincare and other “hawks” in the French government wanted to change the alliance so as to pledge France to such a war, regardless of the initial aggressor. This explains the need for Paleologue to protect the Russian “secret” as long as possible, even if it means deceiving his own government.

Ambassador Paleologue. His post-war memoirs contain dozens of passages of conversations that probably never happened.
London – “I think the prospect very black today.”

July 30th saw the seats for members of the British public, including the Ladies’ Gallery, of the House of Commons filled to capacity in expectation of the great debate over Irish Home Rule that was to take place that afternoon. The expected vote in favor of granting Home Rule was equally expected to lead to open rebellion by the Protestant counties of Northern Ireland – a rebellion which had the sympathy of many British elites and much of the British military. An army unit sent to maintain the peace in Ulster, Northern Ireland had openly refused to go, leading to the army’s Chief of Staff, Sir John French resigning in protest of government policy. As Prime Minister Asquith’s daughter, Violet recorded:

Many of [the women in the Ladies’ Gallery] had been busily engaged in preparation for the impending civil war – attending Red Cross classes, rolling bandages and making splints and slings, etc. One Ulster matron Lady M. (whose figure was particularly well adapted for the purpose) was reputed to have smuggled rifles galore into Belfast under her petticoats.
When Violet’s father rises before the House to begin the expected debate, she and many others give “a gasp of astonishment” at what he says. Out of the blue, Asquith is calling for a postponement of the Home Rule debate in light of the crisis on the European continent.
At this moment unparalleled in the experience of any one of us, [it is necessary] to present a united front and to be able to speak and act with the authority of an undivided nation.
H. H. Asquith, Prime Minister of Great Britain, 1908-1916.
Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
Asquith knows in making the motion to postpone that he will have the consent of both the Irish Parliamentarians (who want Home Rule) and the opposition Conservative Party (which are almost entirely against it). Having spoken to John Redmond and Andrew Bonar Law, leaders of the IP and the Conservatives, respectively, Asquith has already gained their consent to postpone the vote. The Conservatives, the party of imperialism and foreign intervention, are strongly in support of joining the conflict about to unfold in Europe, while Redmond knows Home Rule will be more palatable if the IP gives it support to intervention.

Asquith’s problem remains with his own Liberal Party. A survey of his caucus shows that 75% of the party’s MPs (Members of Parliament, for those unfamiliar with that form of democracy) are against any intervention whatsoever, reflecting the Party’s tradition of keeping clear of European conflict. All but 4 of the 20 members of Asquith’s cabinet are equally opposed as of July 30th. Only Asquith, Grey, Winston Churchill and War Secretary Haldane are in favor. As Asquith notes in his daily letter to his mistress, Venetia Stanley, “I think the prospect [of our intervening] very black today.”

Having made commitments to support France militarily for years, including sending an Expeditionary Force and protecting the English Channel with the British navy, Grey spends the day trying to avoid making any public statements on what London intends to do. He will be forced to spill the beans on the real state of British “commitment” to the Cabinet the next day.

The sudden British hesitancy alarms the French government. As the British ambassador, Sir Francis Bertie notes in his diary that evening, the shouts in the streets of Paris could soon shift from “Vive l’Angleterre!” to “Albion Perfide!”“perfidious (faithless) Britain”.

Tomorrow: the German war machine is activated; the French demand the British keep their word; Sir Edward Grey fesses up to his own government; and more.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Let me know what YOU think (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you to Unitary Moonbat for making me a moderator for History for Kossacks. As a history major and occasional writer of history-themed articles here at DailyKos, I look forward to enjoying your stories as well as publishing my own!


    "We are the leaders we've been waiting for." - Paul Wellstone

    by MrLiberal on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 10:45:33 AM PDT

  •  due to the slow speed of communication (6+ / 0-)

    some of the nicky/willy correspondence was already obsolete by the time the recipients read it. the fog of miscommunication played an increasingly important role, in the final days, with both sides even believing (due both to misunderstandings and deliberate deceptions) that the other had already started to attack.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:01:11 AM PDT

  •  Are you going to cover encryption and (3+ / 0-)

    communications at some point?

    (+4/Rec'd, btw)

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:11:03 AM PDT

    •  It doesn't quite fit into the narrative (5+ / 0-)

      Encryption certainly was a factor in how governments sent and received information. Secrecy was frequently necessary but it took a great deal of time to code and decode messages. Some messages arrived too late for policymakers to react to them during the July Crisis. Serbia's reply to the Austrian ultimatum, for example was not decoded in Berlin until 2 days later; by the time the Kaiser read it, Vienna was hours away from declaring war and  thus making the Kaiser's mediation offer pointless.

      The Russians were particularly good at making and breaking codes in this era; when Ambassador Paleologue would transmit confidential messages from St. Petersburg back to Paris he would send them using a Russian code, not his won. This was because the Germans had no luck whatsoever with decryption of Russian codes but had better success with French ones.

      "We are the leaders we've been waiting for." - Paul Wellstone

      by MrLiberal on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:48:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Germans were especially proud of their (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        thanatokephaloides, MrLiberal

        method -- only it was cracked really early on by the Brits.  I think they were determined to have been encryption for WWII, and they did.  Dramatically.

        I've got a book around here on that, somewhere.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 12:16:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bodyguard of Lies is an excellent book on that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:09:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Losing Your Codebooks Is Really a Bitch (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Didn't the Germans lose their codebooks early in the war when a German warship sank in the Baltic and the Russians found some very valuable assets when they explored the wreck? Once the codebreakers can get an insight into the mind and methodology of the opposing side, it makes it much easier to break subsequent codes as well.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:21:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  In his novel August 1914, Solzhenitsyn writes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MrLiberal, PrahaPartizan, TofG

        that the Russian armies attacking into East Prussia were broadcasting radio orders in the clear.

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:09:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sadly correct (3+ / 0-)

          The logistics organizers of the Russian armies had failed to provide enough telegraph wire for the distance they had to march until they combined forces in East Prussia. In addition neither commander of the 2 armies remembered to take their code books with them for encrypting any communications between them.

          When the German 8th Army facing them intercepted the plans sent by the Russian 2nd Army to the 1st, they initially thought it was a hoax - how could generals be so incompetent as to send such sensitive information in the clear? Unfortunately for the men of the 2nd Army, the new commanders of the German 8th - Hindenburg and Ludendorff - decided to believe the report.

          The result was the massacre of the 2nd Army known as the battle of Tannenburg, in which 120,000 of the 150,000-man army was either killed, wounded or captured. Its commander shot himself rather than report home after such a debacle.

          "We are the leaders we've been waiting for." - Paul Wellstone

          by MrLiberal on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 04:48:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the info nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:16:31 AM PDT

  •  I am reading... (4+ / 0-)

    ..."The Guns of August" right now. Unbelievably great book, a history as a novel. Great diary.

    Please visit The Daily Music Break for some good music.

    by cweinsch on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 11:22:03 AM PDT

  •  What would have happened if Nikolaus had held (3+ / 0-)

    firm and further delayed mobilization? Would Wilhelm have managed to do the same? Could a wider war, beyond Austria-Hungary and Serbia, still been averted at this point? Of course, we will never know for certain, but it's a very interesting question. It's fascinating to see the institutional pressures of the governments and military leadership bearing down on the two monarchs. It's as if the logic of military strategy forced the institutions on a collision course and no individual was quite able to stop them.

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 12:05:51 PM PDT

    •  If the Tsar had held firm (4+ / 0-)

      Then it is likely the Russian government would have retracted its pledge of support to Serbia. At that point either Austria-Hungary destroys the Serb army (although it would have taken longer than General Conrad assumed; the early Austrian attacks in 1914 were disastrous and driven back across the border), or the Serbian government capitulates and runs the risk of a military coup in opposition to capitulation.

      This would have been the 2nd time in 6 years that Russia had "betrayed" the Serbs by backing down in the face of Austrian aggression in the Balkans. As such it's likely both Romania and Bulgaria would have become aligned with the Triple Alliance (Romania was moving towards the Entente in 1914, while Bulgaria had yet to firmly commit to the Alliance), and Germany would have stepped up its program of military aid to the Ottoman Empire. In short, a political humiliation for Russia and a major diplomatic victory for Austria-Hungary and (by extension) Germany.

      The concept of Russia being unwilling to fight would have also  dealt a major blow to Franco-Russian relations. France needed Russia to fight to lessen the blow of the expected German invasion if war started; without that ally the French would have been less likely to antagonize Germany. It's likely that, had war not broken out, the popular Joseph Caillaux - he whose wife had just been acquitted of murdering a political enemy of her husband -  would have become Prime Minister and returned to his policy of easing Franco-German tensions.

      Would this have prevented a World War I-style conflict at some future point? It's impossible to say, but the concept of 1914 Europe as "Sharks vs. Jets" (to use a West Side Story reference) is only accurate in hindsight.

      "We are the leaders we've been waiting for." - Paul Wellstone

      by MrLiberal on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 12:54:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or he could have been forced to abdicate. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't think he could have withstood the situation much longer.

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:11:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That was also a possibility (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wilderness voice, Cartoon Peril

          And one that according to one Imperial court official was brought up by Sazanov in persuading the Tsar to order mobilization. Whether this would have actually happened is doubtful - the heir to the throne was a 10-year old hemophiliac, and the next heir (Nicholas' brother Michael) was not at all interested in being an absolute monarch.

          "We are the leaders we've been waiting for." - Paul Wellstone

          by MrLiberal on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 04:51:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Russian Interest In the Bosphorus (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mike Kahlow

        Russian interest in finally securing control of the Bosphorus peaked during the first decade of the 20th century because their Asian ambitions had been poleaxed by their defeat against Japan and their need to guarantee access for their grain exports, which were a major source of hard currency earnings for Imperial Russia.  That being said, Russia was far more interested in gaining direct control of the Bosphorus than in even allowing one of their clients to control it.  In fact they had double-crossed Bulgaria during the First Balkan War when the Bulgarians were less than 20 miles away from Constantinople and had then switched support to Serbia in the Second Balkan War.  Russia's duplicity was the prime mover in opening the Bulgarians to Central Alliance overtures.  You can screw your "allies" only so many times before they understand the truth of the situation - all states, even "allies," have their own particular and peculiar "interests."  We would do well to remember that even today.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 07:44:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great series (4+ / 0-)

    I'm hooked

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:05:20 PM PDT

  •  Bravo on JFK reference, and BTW that JFK was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PrahaPartizan, Mike Kahlow

    elected, rather than some dork who inherited his position, makes a huge difference here.  

    Again and again, we see the rush to war, accompanied by the lies that it was needed, unavoidable, or whatever.  

    Wilson, despite his numerous and serious flaws, was completely right that the monarchial form of government that was responsible for the war.  

    And not so much the monarchs, they had no real interests in war, and why would they, they were at the top of their game anyway.  The driving force seems to have been the ministers who were capable of fooling the monarchs (rather easily actually) and who lacked any sort of real accountability to the public.

    As you point out, there would however be an accounting, and in its most horrible way in Russia, but also in all the other powers.  This sort of thing, a vast and unnecessary war, could not be shirked off or dodged.

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:07:28 PM PDT

  •  Today in the British Parliament 30 July 1914 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The diarist is drawing on wider sources than the record of parliamentary proceedings, known as Hansard, which I am using. In the nature of things that source only covers what was publicly announced today. No doubt much about the European crisis is not being revealed publicly or even known by anybody in London on this date.

    The European crisis has been happening at the same time as the much longer running Irish one was expected to come to a head. In my comments of recent days about Parliamentary proceedings, I have not gone on to mention the alarming events in Ireland. However as the diarist explains, today the Irish question is being eclipsed by the European war.


    HC Deb 30 July 1914 vol 65 cc1601-2 1601
    § The PRIME MINISTER had given notice of the following Motion, "That the Proceedings on the Government of Ireland (Amendment) Bill have precedence this day of the Business of Supply."

    §Mr. SPEAKER The Prime Minister is going to make a statement on this Motion. I think I ought to say that the Standing Orders do not provide for any Amendment or Debate. As this, however, is a very exceptional occasion, I have no doubt the House will be anxious to hear what the Prime Minister has to say, and will waive the Standing Orders.
    §The PRIME MINISTER I do not propose to make the Motion which stands in my name. By the indulgence of the House I should like to give the reason. We meet to-day under conditions of gravity which are almost unparalleled in the experience of every one of us. The issues of peace and war are hanging in the balance, and with them the risk of a catastrophe of which it is impossible to measure either the dimensions or the effects. In these circumstances it is of vital importance in the interests of the whole world that this country, which has no interests of its own directly at stake, should present a united front, and be able to speak and act with the authority of an undivided nation. If we were to proceed to-day with the first Order on the Paper, we should inevitably, unless the Debate was conducted in an artificial tone, be involved in acute controversy in regard to domestic differences whose importance to ourselves no one in any quarter of the House is disposed to disparage or to belittle. I need not say more than that such a use of our time at such a moment might have injurious, and lastingly injurious, effects on the international situation. I have had the advantage of consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, who, I know, shares to the full the view which I have expressed. We therefore propose to put off for the present the consideration of the Second Reading of the Amending Bill—of course without prejudice to its future—in the hope that by a postponement of the discussion the patriotism of all parties will contribute what lies in our power, if not to avert, at least to circumscribe, the calamities which threaten the 1602 world. In the meantime, the business which we shall take will be confined to necessary matters and will not be of a controversial character.
    §Mr. SPEAKER The situation is a little complicated by reason of the fact that if this Motion is not put, this will become an allotted day. Supply stands first if the Motion is not taken. Therefore, I think it will be better to take it.
    §The PRIME MINISTER I beg to move, "That the Proceedings on the Government of Ireland (Amendment) Bill have precedence this day of the Business of Supply."
    §Mr. SPEAKER It is not necessary to take the Amending Bill.
    §Mr. BONAR LAW As the Prime Minister has informed the House, it is with our concurrence that he has made the suggestion which we have just heard. At a moment like the present, when even those of us who do not share diplomatic secrets feel that the statement of the Prime Minister is true, that peace or war may be trembling in the balance, I think it is of the utmost importance that it should be made plain to everyone that, whatever our domestic differences may be, they do not prevent us presenting a united front in the counsels of the world. I am obliged to the Prime Minister for saying that in the meantime party controversial business will not be taken. I am sure it is his intention, as it would be the wish of the whole House, that this postponement will not in any way prejudice the interests of any of the parties to the controversy. I should like to add—and I do so not to give information to the House, the Members of which quite understand the position, but in order that it may be plain outside—that in what I have now said I speak not only, in so far as I am entitled to speak, for the Unionist party, but for Ulster, and in what I have just said I have the concurrence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Trinity College.
    § Question put, and agreed to.

    The member for Trinity College is, the leader of the Irish Unionists, Sir Edward Carson.

    The British establishment is closing ranks, postponing internal quarrels, to face a larger foreign problem.

    Another piece of business was the approval of the Navy Estimates for 1914-1915. If war comes I rather think these estimates will have to be revised.

    NAVY ESTIMATES, 1914–15.

    HC Deb 30 July 1914 vol 65 cc1602-3 1602
    § 1. "That a sum, not exceeding £483,500, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expenses of the Admiralty 1603 Office, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915."

    § 2. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,003,700, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Half Pay and Retired Pay to Officers of the Navy and Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915."

    § 3. "That a sum, not exceeding £1,605,900, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expenses of Naval and Marine Pensions, Gratuities, and Compassionate Allowances, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915."

    § 4. "That a sum, not exceedng £399,400, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Expense of Civil Superannuation, Compensation Allowances, and Gratuities, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1915."

    § Resolutions agreed to.

    Another straw in the wind is a reference to Army reserve forces.

    HC Deb 30 July 1914 vol 65 cc1693-4 1693
    § Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 17th July, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."

    Mr. McCALLUM SCOTT I wish to ask whether there is anyone now on the Front Bench who can give us information in reference to the announcement of calling out the Special Reserve and the Territorial Force? I observe in the printed announcement mention is made of Section 13 (2) and (8) of the Territorial Reserve Forces Act. I have referred to the Act, and I can find no such provision in it.
    1694 There is Section 13, Sub-section (2), and there are two further Sub-sections (a) and (b). I presume 8 is a misprint for a. That Sub-section provides that the special section of the Territorials may be called out for service either in any place outside the United Kingdom or for military service for purposes of defence at such places in the United Kingdom as may be specified in their agreement whether the Territorial Force is embodied or not. I would be glad if we can be correctly informed as to whether those have been called out in any place outside the United Kingdom; whether it has been limited to that, or whether they are called out under the Section in general which provides for both.

    §Mr. GULLAND I can say nothing at all, and I do not think the hon. Member has given notice to anybody.
    Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT There has not been any time to give notice. I have just seen it on the tape. It is very important that we should have accurate information.
    § Adjourned accordingly at Three minutes before Nine o'clock.

    Mr MacCallum Scott is the Liberal MP for the Bridgeton division of Glasgow. Mr John Gulland is a junior member of the government, as a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury and functions as the Scottish Liberal Whip.

    These comments by Alexander MacCullum Scott, a well connected backbencher in the Liberal  ranks, may indicate hesitancy about obviously necessary measures.

    There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

    by Gary J on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 01:23:44 PM PDT

    •  Also, don't forget suffragette agitating and the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gary J, wilderness voice

      change World War I brought.
      (From Wikipedia):

      With the commencement of the First World War, the suffragette movement in Britain moved away from suffrage activities and focused the efforts of their organizations on the war effort, and as a result, hunger strikes largely stopped. In August 1914, the British Government released all prisoners who had been incarcerated for suffrage activities on an amnesty, with Pankhurst ending all militant suffrage activities soon after. The suffragettes' focus on war work turned public opinion in favour of their eventual partial enfranchisement in 1918.

      Women eagerly volunteered take on many of the traditional male roles – this led to a new view of what a woman was capable of doing. The war also caused a split in the British suffragette movement, with the mainstream, represented by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst's WSPU calling a 'ceasefire' in their campaign for the duration of the war, while more radical suffragettes, represented by Sylvia Pankhurst's Women's Suffrage Federation continued the struggle.

      The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, which had always employed "constitutional" methods, continued to lobby during the war years, and compromises were worked out between the NUWSS and the coalition government. On 6 February, the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed, enfranchising women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications (as well as men over 21 – prior to this not all British men were enfranchised). About 8.4 million women gained the vote.[39] In November 1918, the Eligibility of Women Act was passed, allowing women to be elected into Parliament.[39] The Representation of the People Act 1928 extended the voting franchise to all women over the age of 21, granting women the vote on the same terms that men had gained ten years earlier.

      •  A lot of issues were postponed (for a time) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When Parliament turned its attention to the franchise, late in the war, there was much less controversy about votes for (at least some) women than before the war. The reason some politicians gave for changing their mind, was the war work which women had done.

        There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

        by Gary J on Wed Jul 30, 2014 at 02:26:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting that British politicians were more for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrLiberal, Mike Kahlow

    involvement in the looming war than I had thought.

    Btw, an episode of the old Upstairs Downstairs series (end of series two) ended with Upstairs on holiday in the country and Downstairs at a seaside resort. The reaction of the Downstairs staff (and frankly the more fun of the lower class resort then the aristocracy place) was interestingly different---including under maid Daisy's upset reaction and butler Hudson's gungho one.

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